Conscription During World War I Essay

Conscription During World War I Essay

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During the South African War Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister at that time was caught in the middle of a dispute between imperialists and anti-imperialists. This divide was mainly between French and English Canadians. Adding to this split was the introduction of conscription during World War I in 1917. Conscription, is the compulsory service of men of military age who were able to fight. The use in mass conscription of modern society is the story of the changing relationship between the state and citizens in World War I and was a major turning point, especially in Canada. The use of conscription extended the reach of the state and obligations of society. Conscription was opposed by French Canadians, farmers, unionized workers, non-British immigrants, and many other Canadians because they believed it was an act of imperialism, workers and farmers were making more money during the war, and they felt it wasn’t their war to fight in.
Before the War there was long-standing tensions over territory, colonial competition, and the overwhelming fear of attack in Europe. These elements plagued international relations. When the likelihood of fighting increased nobody wanted to be the last to mobilize their armies. “Mobilization schedules, martial rhetoric, and secret obligations set most of Europe on the path to war.”
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on the twenty eighth of June 1914 led to the explosion of war. The network of alliances and offers of military support put Russia, France, and Great Britain against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. If one of these countries went to war, it ultimately meant they would all be drawn into battle because of the network of alliances and military support. These...


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... and Labourers of Canada were against conscription. By the time of War’s end on the November 1918, the Armistice, only 48,000 conscripts had been sent overseas and half of them served the front line. There was also over 50,000 conscripts who remained in Canada. The conscription ultimately brought to light into the previous splits in society and allows one to see the problems Canada faced during World War I. It shows who wanted to fight, who felt it was their War to fight, the strong Imperial ties, European ties many Canadians did have, and also, lack of ties by certain groups. Conscription had many implications in Canada post war and was one of the biggest events that shook the nation. The conscription crisis may not been completely to blame, but definitely affected the general strikes across Canada that would ensue in the coming years post World War I in Canada.



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